Clint Black will help set the tone of CMT's Country Freedom Concert Sunday (Oct. 21) by providing the evening's welcoming remarks and returning a few minutes later to perform a new song, "America," a work-in-progress he began writing shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
"It isn't mournful, it isn't cheery," Black says
of the patriotic tune. The country star spoke to country.com about the song Friday afternoon (Oct.
19) during a phone interview from his home in Southern California. "It's intended to be uplifting while still being respectful
of the tragedy that we've just experienced."
Black and a long list of other country stars are performing at Country Freedom Concert to raise funds for the Salvation Army Disaster Relief Fund. The lineup also
includes George Strait, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Brooks
& Dunn, Vince Gill, George Jones, Trisha Yearwood, Lonestar, Lee
Ann Womack, Sara Evans, Hank Williams Jr.,
Earl Scruggs, Diamond Rio, Montgomery Gentry and surprise guests.
Toby Keith and Travis Tritt taped segments for inclusion in the program.
The benefit concert will
air live and commercial-free from 8-11 p.m. ET on CMT, CMT Canada and VH1 Country from the Gaylord Entertainment Center in
Nashville. Westwood One will provide the concert's audio feed to radio stations worldwide. Country.com will webcast the event
free of charge. Tickets to attend the show in person are available through Ticketmaster.
Faced with performing a concert
in Dallas two weeks after the terrorist attacks, Black felt the need to articulate his feelings creatively. Hence, "America"
"I needed something that would make a statement at the outset of the [Dallas] show," Black explains. "So,
I started writing that song. I put together some video clips from newsreels and the President's State of the Union address,
and just became inspired to try and say what I think was on a lot of our minds."
The country star also turned to the
Internet for information and inspiration.
"One of the first things I did is look up America and the first thing I saw
was a flag," Black says. "That's how I open the song: 'I looked up America, most beautiful flag I've ever seen. America.'"
The foundation of "America" is set but the song is still evolving. Black wants to eventually record the song.
kind of like 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in that I've written a lot more than I'll sing," Black says. "The 'Star-Spangled Banner'
has four or five more verses than we use as our national anthem."
Black said he was moved by his strong feelings about
the state of our nation.
"What I feel as a patriot and as a history buff is that this great country has been hard won,"
Black maintains. "All the wars that people have fought and died in the name of freedom are often overlooked. Not just our
own freedom but also freedom we have brought to other countries -- democracies that we've helped to grow.
overlooked while people bicker about what policies are good and what policies are bad and what terrible things that have been
done in the name of the United States of America," Black continues. "There are people out there who would rather see the misguided
intentions of a few overshadow the great, well-founded intentions of the many.
"This is a great country and frankly
I was growing tired of hearing the few who were taking shots at America. I grow more tired of it everyday. And I wanted to
say those things in a song without preaching or coming off too angry but just showing my pride in America."
will perform Sunday with a small contingency of his band. The singer plans to counter the seriousness of "America" with a
"I probably will do something up and fun, because while we have important things to say and dark moments
to pay tribute to, we still need to entertain and have fun," Black says. "That's part of the reason we're there. That's my
intention. I may change my mind by the time I get there, but right now my feeling is to say something important, say something
serious and also have some fun and let the audience go through the full range of emotions."
Country Freedom Concert Links:
Freedom Concert: Country's Love Song to America